MINORS: 2012 Rule 5 recap

by Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney

With the major league baseball Winter Meetings wrapping up in Nashville, teams took part in the annual Rule 5 draft.  Players eligible to be drafted included those who have at least five years of minor league experience and have been left of their team’s 40-man roster.  The selecting team must have room on their own 40-man roster and the player must be on the team’s active 25-man roster for the entire 2013 season or else be returned to their original organization.

This year’s crop of eligible players was deeper than in previous years, but still lacked any sure-fire impact prospects.  Fifteen players were selected in the major league portion of the draft. The Tigers, the Astros, and the Marlins added two players, while the Nationals, Rays, Red Sox, and Indians each lost two players.  Below we take a look at the Rule 5 players most likely to stick with their new organizations and evaluate any long or short-term fanalytic impact.

Jeff Kobernus (2B, DET)
Previous Organization: WAS
Profile: Kobernus is a speedy 2B prospect who was limited to just 330 AB due to injury, but still managed to swipe 42 bases.  He has a quick bat and plus speed that give him the ability to hit for average and make things happen on the bases.  His pitch recognition and walk rate could be better and he has very little power.  He plays above-average defense at 2B with good range, soft hands, and good footwork around the bag.
2013 fantasy impact: With Omar Infante the Tigers likely regular at 2B, Kobernus will battle Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth for a place on the Tigers bench.  The one advantage that Kobernus has is his plus speed.  Kobernus has 95 steals over the past two seasons and the stolen base-challenged Tigers could use him to rest Infante or as a late-inning pinch runner.
Long term impact: Long-term, Kobernus has the potential to provide enough speed and average to carve out full-time AB, but not for a playoff contender looking to win now.

Alferdo Silverio (OF, MIA)
Previous Organization: LA
Profile: Silverio is a strong, athletic OF with plenty of raw tools.  He missed most of the 2012 following a car accident that left him with multiple injuries, the most serious of which was a severe concussion and the need for Tommy John surgery.  Prior to the accident, Silverio had shown 5 above-average tools and had a breakout in 2011 that included selection to the Futures Game.  He has plus bat speed and drives the ball with authority.  He has moderate plate discipline and good pitch recognition and should be able to hit for average with moderate power.  Silverio moves well defensively and can play all three OF positions, though CF may be a bit of a stretch.
Fantasy Impact: If healthy, Silverio will compete for a bench role with the Marlins.  With Giancarlo Stanton and Juan Pierre holding down the corners, there is a chance for Silverio to earn playing time in center, where he has seen action in the past.  Silverio will compete with Gorkys Hernandez, Justin Ruggiano, and Bryan Peterson for playing time in center next spring.  Of those in contention for the job, Silverio has the greatest upside and his power/speed combination gives him the potential to have significant fantasy value.
Long term impact: Long-term, Silverio needs to prove he is healthy and capable of hitting major league pitching.  The jump from Double-A to the majors will not be an easy one.

Danny Rosenbaum (LHP, COL)
Previous organization: Washington
Profile: The big and durable 25-year-old may not have flashy stuff or ideal arm action, but he commands his four pitch arsenal well and gets outs by keeping hitters off balance. He pitches effectively off of his 86-92 mph sinker that he locates with precision down in the strike zone. As an extreme groundball pitcher, he will give up his fair share of base hits, though he keeps the ball in the yard. His other pitches consists of a solid-average curveball that features excellent break, a fringy slider, and a passable change-up. None of his offerings project to a true out pitch and he must continue with his above average command and control. At Double-A Harrisburg in ’12, he posted a 3.94 ERA, 2.3 Ctl, 5.7 Dom, and .278 oppBA in 155.1 innings.
2013 Fantasy impact:  He will be in competition for a back-of-the-rotation slot with the Rockies where his sinker could give him an advantage. He is far from a guarantee, but a relatively safe pick who could  muster a few wins and a low strikeout rate.
Long-term impact: What you see now is what you’ll see in the future. He has #5-type stuff with minimal strikeout potential. His best trait may be his durability and he could serve in a variety of roles, whether it be a starter or long reliever.

Josh Fields (RHP, HOU)
Previous organization: Boston
Profile: The 27-year-old short and strong reliever was once a first round selection of the Mariners in ’08 before being sent to the Red Sox in July ’11. Much of his success in ’12—his best season—can be attributed to improved command and control. He’s always had pure arm strength that can pump his fastball into the mid-90s (touching 97) while complementing it with a tight, hard curveball that serves as his out pitch. The problem has always been pitch location and control. If the trend of throwing quality strikes continues, he could be a steal in this draft. His maximum-effort delivery is difficult to repeat and his curveball can often be left hanging in the upper half of the strike zone. Regardless, he posted a 2.01 ERA, 2.8 Ctl, and 12.0 Dom while holding hitters to a .183 oppBA between Double-A and Triple-A.
2013 fantasy impact: Given his power arsenal and improved command/control, he has a chance to pitch meaningful innings late in games as the season wears on. It is likely he’ll serve as a middle reliever from the onset, but he could earn a more prominent role with a splendid Spring Training.
Long-term impact: If there was anybody in this draft that has the potential to be an impact fantasy performer, it is Fields. He could earn save opportunities as soon as this year, however, if his erratic control returns, he could find himself back in the minors.

Hector Rondon (RHP, CHC)
Previous organization: Cleveland
Profile: The 24-year-old appeared to be on the fast track to the big leagues before multiple elbow surgeries derailed his steady progress. He hasn’t pitched a full season since ’09 and has only worked 42 innings the past three campaigns. Rondon returned to the mound in August and has been throwing well in Venezuela in the offseason. The Cubs hope to cultivate the pitchability he exhibited several years ago when he was among the Indians top pitching prospects. When healthy and at his peak, he uses an athletic and repeatable delivery to pepper the strike zone with a solid three pitch arsenal. His best pitch may be his change-up that he can use to keep left-handed hitters at bay. His fastball velocity may not be overwhelming, but he can change speeds and cut it while sitting in the low-90s. Rondon lacks a swing-and-miss pitch and may need to upgrade his curveball in order to have a shot at the rotation. For his career, he has a 3.80 ERA, 1.9 Ctl, and 8.1 Dom.
2013 fantasy impact: The Cubs may choose to ease him back into action in a middle relief role. He has the pitchability and command to start games, but his lack of innings over the last three seasons may result in a slow return to the rotation.
Long-term impact: He has the pitch mix and command to be a #4-type starter, though he’ll have to prove his health for the next few seasons. Don’t expect dominance, but his feel for pitching should keep him around for awhile.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.